Major American universities are practicing "land-grabbing" - buying up African farmland in deals that will likely result in displacement of small farmers, environmental devastation and the further impoverishment and political destabilization. Students and alumni: you have the power to change this.
Barring any cataclysmic events, here are our predicted trends for 2012 in Food, Water and Energy (Fwenergy, if you will). And while there are no doomsday scenarios, not everything looks rosy for 2012.
We're experiencing the food, water and energy nexus first-hand. The worst drought since 1956 will likely produce significant impacts on food and fuel prices and could cause urban water supplies in some regions of the country to dry up.
While global demand for fossil fuels grows, gasoline prices remain volatile. Add in concerns about climate change and alternatives to oil-based fuels look increasingly attractive. However, corn-based ethanol, the most prominent biofuel in the United States, will not answer any of these issues.
As a result of the industrialization and consolidation of agriculture, food production has become increasingly dependent on energy derived from fossil fuels. Food crops are also becoming fuels themselves.
As GAO’s past work has shown, and other studies and specialists have confirmed, there are a number of key energy-water nexus issues that Congress and federal agencies need to consider when developing and implementing national policies for energy and water resources.
Over the past several years, spurred by both rising gasoline prices and long-standing subsidies for producing ethanol, the use of ethanol as a motor fuel in the United States has grown at an annual average rate of nearly 25 percent.U.S. consumption of ethanol last year exceeded 9 billion gallons--a record high. CBO released a paper today that discusses the relationship between ethanol, greenhouse-gas emissions, food prices, and federal spending on nutrition programs.
"Prior studies have estimated that a liter of bioethanol requires 263−784 L of water from corn farm to fuel pump, but these estimates have failed to account for the widely varied regional irrigation practices. By using regional time-series agricultural and ethanol production data in the U.S., this paper estimates the state-level field-to-pump water requirement of bioethanol across the nation. The results indicate that bioethanol’s water requirements can range from 5 to 2138 L per liter of ethanol depending on regional irrigation practices. The results also show that as the ethanol industry expands to areas that apply more irrigated water than others, consumptive water appropriation by bioethanol in the U.S. has increased 246% from 1.9 to 6.1 trillion liters between 2005 and 2008, whereas U.S. bioethanol production has increased only 133% from 15 to 34 billion liters during the same period. The results highlight the need to take regional specifics into account when implementing biofuel mandates."
It started with a simple idea: when it comes to food, we should model our diets after that of our grandparents, which is to say, we should eat less meat and less processed food. Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, the slim handbook that answers the common question, "What should I eat?" is sweetly animated here.
"Food, Water and Energy: Know the Nexus" describes how and where food, water and energy systems intersect, how they rely upon each other to function and how they can have a significant impact on each other.
A group of people who research, manage and write about the energy-water nexus recently gathered at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Washington, DC to determine research needs to help the country achieve sustainability at the nexus. Here's what they found.